Gary Hume is renowned for paintings distinguished by a bright palette, reduced imagery and flat areas of seductive colour. While Hume's paintings have always emphasised their luscious surfaces and simplified forms, many are infused with a melancholic beauty.
Hume first received critical acclaim with a body of work known as the 'Door' paintings. These minimal and abstract works, with their high gloss paint and insistent reflective surfaces, developed in the early 1990s into a broader set of motifs, such as the nude, the portrait, the garden, as well as a pictorial idiom drawn from childhood, with images of polar bears, snowmen, rabbits, owls and close-up faces. His subject matter broadened further through the mid 1990s to incorporate images from popular culture, making portraits of celebrity figures such as Tony Blackburn, Kate Moss and Patsy Kensit. For the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1999) he produced the Water Paintings, large-scale works of multiple, overlapping line drawings of nudes punctuated by flat areas of colour. ‘Cave Paintings’, the title of a show at White Cube in 2006, featured seven marble tableaux composed of a variety of different stones set against each other in collaged sections appearing as tectonic plates. These are held together by a lead tracery that provides the outer limit to the expanses of colour, traced by the natural faults and veins inherent in the stone itself. These monolithic compositions are hand-carved and richly decadent, combining visual motifs from the natural world with imagery suggestive of human birth and fundamental, instinctive emotions. In 2007 Hume explored new territory with American Tan, a body of work that addressed America, where he spends about half of every year, through the image of the cheerleader. The innocence and sexuality of this figure allowed Hume to create a series of paintings and sculptures that felt both celebratory and disquieting, an ambivalence that reflects the artist’s view of American culture. More recently, Hume has explored the imagery of innocent and rural America with paintings of barn doors and flowers, imagery drawn directly from his small farm in upstate New York.
Gary Hume was born in Kent, UK in 1962 and lives and works in London and upstate New York.
Solo exhibitions include Tate Britain, London (2013); Leeds Art Gallery, UK, touring England and Scotland (2012); Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2012); Modern Art Oxford, UK (2008); Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2004); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2004); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2003); Fundação la Caixa, Barcelona (2000); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (1999); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1999); and São Paulo Biennial (1996).Group exhibitions include ‘Here, There and Somewhere in Between’, The Royal Academy at Hatfield House, London (2013); ‘Encounter: The Royal Academy Exhibition in Asia/Middle East’, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore and Katara Cultural Village Foundation, Doha, Qatar (2012–13); ‘Art of the Garden’, Tate Britain, London (2004); ‘The Flower as Image’, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2004); and ‘Painting on the Move’, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2002).
Hume was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1996 and represented Great Britain in the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999; he was elected as a Royal Academician in 2001.